Robert Thornhill
Lady Justice and Terror on the Tracks


Lady Justice and Terror on the Tracks

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    Virtually everything in America relies on computers. The electrical grid, the banking network, and the railroads are prime examples.

    Hackers employed by our enemies are constantly looking for ways to infiltrate and destroy these systems.

    In Terror on the Tracks, three terrorists have been sent to Kansas City, the nation’s second largest rail hub, to sabotage the railroad and engulf the city in an environmental disaster.

    Walt, along with his father, John, and his partner, Kevin, are dragged into the terrorists' plot and put their lives on the line to snuff out the terrorists' diabolical plan to destroy the railroad.



    Mostafa Jafari heard the gentle tap on the door and looked cautiously through the peep hole. Seeing his comrade, Ahmad Shirazi, he slid the deadbolt and let Ahmad slip inside.

    “Are you sure you weren’t followed?” Mostafa asked, looking up and down the street.

    “I am positive,” Ahmad replied. “I took precautions. Have you received any word about our next assignment?”

    “No, nothing yet.”

    “What’s the delay?” Ahmad asked, obviously frustrated.

    “Patience, my friend,” Mostafa replied. “When the time is right, we will be notified.”

    “But surely you must have some idea. Have you heard anything at all from our people in Iran?”

    “Only that preparations are being made to deliver a blow that will strike fear in the hearts of the infidels.”

    Ahmad’s eyes widened. “Surely not a nuclear attack! I was told we were years away from having that capability.”

    Mostafa smiled. “Ahmad! You sound like the Americans. But that is exactly what the Ayatollah wants the world to fear, our growing nuclear threat. Our enemies will be so focused on keeping that threat at bay, they won’t see what we actually have in store for them.”

    “I --- I don’t understand.”

    “It was the Cold War between the United States and Russia that had the entire world quaking at the thought of nuclear annihilation. Today, there are nine countries that possess nuclear weapons. It is estimated that there are over 13,885 such weapons, more than enough to bring an end to the human race as we know it. It is this fear of mutual destruction that has caused us to alter the way we wage war against our enemies.”

    “Go on.”

    “The American way of life is a house of cards built on a shaky foundation that most of its citizens can’t comprehend.

    “The U.S. electrical grid is a perfect example. It is a highly complex system with some 3,300 utility companies that work together to deliver power through 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. The nation also has 55,000 electrical substations and 5.5 million miles of distribution lines that power millions of homes and businesses.

    “Virtually everything in the American home is powered by electricity. When an ice storm wipes out power lines, there is no alarm clock, coffee pot, television, furnace motor or lights to see in the dark.

    “Imagine New York City with no power. High rise buildings with no lights, heat, air conditioning or elevators. Imagine the grid-lock when all of the traffic lights are out. And this is just the beginning. Without electricity, the pumps that pull water from rivers or aquifers will not function.

    “A cyberattack on the U.S. electric grid could cause power losses in large parts of the United States that could last days or up to several weeks in some places, and it would cause a substantial economic impact.”

    “I can see that,” Ahmad replied, “but is such an attack possible?”

    “Absolutely! A perfect example on a smaller scale was the attack on a substation in Metcalf, California. Shortly after midnight on April 16, 2013, fiber-optic AT&T phone lines were cut, shutting off service to nearby neighborhoods. The attackers also fired more than 100 rounds of .30-caliber rifle ammunition into the radiators of 17 electricity transformers. Thousands of gallons of oil leaked, causing electronics to overheat and shut down. It took twenty-seven days to get the system back up and running. Imagine such an attack on a nation-wide scale.”

     “I see the possibilities, but do we have the people to pull off such an attack?”

    Mustafa nodded. “After World War II, every country recruited scientists who could develop weapons of mass destruction. The result was the nuclear warhead.

    “In this day and age, the people being recruited are not scientists, but the world’s most skillful hackers, people who can penetrate the complex computer systems that control America’s power grid.”

    “Is such an attack even possible?”

    “It is not only possible, but it has been done. Three years ago, a group of Russian hackers going by the name, Sandworm, were able to bring Ukraine to a standstill by shutting down its power grid through a type of malware. When launched, hackers were able to commandeer the cursors of the infected computers, leaving Ukrainian officials helpless. The hackers initiated blackouts that cut the power to hundreds of thousands.”

    “And do we have people such as this?” Ahmad asked.

    Mustafa smiled. “Indeed we do!”